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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  February 19, 2013 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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on our broadcast tonight, sneak attacks. the explosive allegations that a branch of the chinese military is reaching into american life by robbing our computers blind in a kind of computer espionage, electronic warfare we've been warned about. deep impact. the new fight over money in washington. another deadline rapidly approaching along with deep budget cuts poised to have a major impact on the military, law enforcement, even food inspection. and there are big worries about how it will hit the u.s. economy. his side of the story. an emotional oscar pistorius in court for the first time. what he says really happened the night his girlfriend was killed. and the brazen diamond heist at the airport right on the tarmac.
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a huge game of deception, $50 million worth of diamonds gone without a trace. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news with brian williams." >> good evening. it's an explosive allegation, and it's what we've all been warned about for years since the dawn of the computer age. a u.s. security firm says over 140 targets in this country have been hit electronically by a branch of the chinese military. big companies, you name it, some of the best-known brand names in the u.s. but more troubling than that is the idea that chinese hackers could reach into american society. the systems that run the country, our infrastructure and preserve order like power systems, air traffic, financial industry. it's a sweeping report and a scary conclusion. we begin with nbc's andrea mitchell in our washington newsroom. andrea, good evening.
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>> good evening, brian. outgoing defense secretary panetta has warned of a cyber pearl harbor. the president warned about cyber sabotage in the state of the union. now for the first time new evidence pinpoints the attacks as coming not only from china but as you point out from the chinese military. >> reporter: a seven-year internet hunt zeroed in on one neighborhood in shanghai and finally this 12-story building. the source of thousands of cyber attacks against 141 u.s. companies spanning 20 industries. whose building is it? according to a new report confirmed by u.s. intelligence, it's the headquarters of unit 61398, the cyber warriors for china's peoples liberation army. >> i think it was time to let the world know, it's actually not just from china, it's the chinese government sanctioning these attacks. >> reporter: among the targets, of china's hackers, america's very infrastructure. >> now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid. our financial institutions. our air traffic control systems.
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>> reporter: other targets of chinese hackers, familiar brand names like coca-cola, facebook, "the new york times," "washington post" and "wall street journal," and only today, apple. the hackers have user names like ugly gorilla. and doda. according to this instructional manual from mandia, the computer security firm that did the study. >> here we see him logging in. he has used this count for spear fishing and generating additional e-mail accounts. >> reporter: what is spear fishing? it's how attackers gain a foothold into a company's computer network by sending deceptive e-mails, tricking users to clicking on a malicious link to a phony website. once the victims provide passwo passwords, p.i.n. numbers or access codes, they're in, able to steal confidential files and route them to shanghai, sometimes for years with no one noticing. >> when these companies are engaging in business in china, they really are going up against
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a full panoply of resources of the chinese government. >> reporter: the president has himself complained about china's cyber attacks and officials say got nowhere. but the u.s. uses cyber war to sabotage iran's nuclear program. what do you say to people who say wait a second. the u.s. does this, too? >> our government's not going to hack for the benefit of the private sector. they'll hack for the benefit of american people's security. >> and why don't businesses fight back? computer experts say most companies are afraid if they complain about the hacking, they'll lose access to billions of dollars of business in china. brian? >> andrea mitchell starting us off from washington. thanks. more on this same theme, as we mentioned, apple said today it had been hacked, believed to be the work of the same computer hackers who hit facebook in recent days. the apple attack involved malware picked up on a company computer which apple says it has isolated. as for its worried customers, apple says a software patch is now available for download to identify and repair any macs that might have been exposed to the attack. well, we're all veterans now of events with names like the
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debt ceiling deadline, the fiscal cliff, and the next one is barrelling down the tracks. it is called the sequester, but it has nothing to do with a jury. and if it isn't stopped, if it's allowed to go through in ten days, huge automatic spending cuts go into effect. the president used some dire language to warn about it today. and tonight nbc's john yang explains what the sequester is and the impact it could have for everyone. >> reporter: with no budget deal in sight, an automatic spending cuts just days away, president obama said today it was the fault of congressional republicans. >> they haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts. >> reporter: republicans blame the president. >> the president, back in the last session of congress, refused to cut spending in any place. >> reporter: they're fighting over a sequester. washingtonspeak for the $1.2 trillion across-the-board
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spending cuts that would begin march 1st unless congress and the president agree on a deficit-cutting package. >> the problem with it is it doesn't distinguish between wasteful spending and very good spending. >> reporter: through 2021, it means cutting $85 billion a year, half from the pentagon, half from nondefense programs. everything from education to national parks to meals on wheels. exempt from the cuts, programs like social security and veterans' benefits and student loans. the administration warns federal food inspectors would be temporarily furloughed. that could mean less product, higher prices and fewer jobs. air travelers may see longer lines at security checkpoints. by one congressional estimate, as many as 9,000 tsa officers may have to be laid off. the pentagon budget would be cut 11% a year even as the war in afghanistan continues. d.o.d. civilian workers will likely take the hit.
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plans call for more than 700,000 to take one day off a week without pay, a 20% pay cut. jason mckenzie owns ride on bikes in columbus, georgia, home to fort benning. military employees make up half his business so smaller paychecks could mean fewer sales. >> it's going to take money out of everybody's pocket, everything. everybody will stop spending, everybody. >> reporter: one of the ripple effects of gridlock in washington felt far beyond the beltway. john yang, nbc news, chicago. all of this somehow brings us to our political director and chief white house correspondent, chuck todd. so chuck, what's going to happen here, and if it does happen and if it's fixed, do you wonder why people are so deeply angry, cynical and checked out of our politics? >> i can understand if viewers tonight think this is chicken little all over again. the president holding another event surrounded by people who could see dire effects of a budget compromise. it feels like we've been through this before. the sky is falling. what are we going to do? we don't -- we know how this is going to get resolved.
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these cuts are going to go through march 1st, probably. the government runs out of funding at the end of march. they'll come up with some compromise deal. doesn't quite fix things. kind of a band-aid, and then they'll punt something else down the road, and we'll go down this. what this does is it makes the rest of government a bit dysfunctional. and of course, it builds cynicism. the one thing i wonder here is we already know that congress isn't popular. the president is testing the political limits of the public cynicism, which is how much are they going to believe this? are they going to look up and say, how often are you going to say this? i'm through listening to washington. >> all right. chuck todd with the dire forecast to go along with the news we're reporting tonight. chuck, thanks, as always. marine corps four-star general john allen in line to become the nato supreme allied commander has been rattled by the e-mail scandal that brought down cia director david petraeus, informed the president today he is retiring. to support his wife who is ill with an autoimmune
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with an autoimmune disorder. general allen was cleared of wrongdoing after e-mails between him and a florida socialite surfaced during the course of the petraeus investigation. oscar pistorius was back in court today. and for the first time, we heard his side of the story, what he says really happened inside his home the night his girlfriend was killed on valentine's day of last week. it was all part of a very emotional day in which the defense and prosecution laid out their cases. nbc's michelle kosinski was inside the courtroom. >> reporter: oscar pistorius faced the court, the world's cameras, and told his side of the story. in a statement read by his lawyer, he claimed he acted in self-defense against a suspected intruder. he said he woke up in the middle of the night, brought a fan in from his balcony, returning to the bedroom, he said, i heard a noise in the bathroom and realized someone was in the bathroom. i felt a sense of terror rushing over me. as i did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely
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vulnerable, i knew i had to protect reeva and myself. i grabbed my .9-millimeter pistol from underneath my bed, screamed words to the effect for him -- them -- to get out of my house. it was pitch dark and i thought reeva was in bed. prosecutors say he fired four times, three of them into the small locked bathroom seen here in a photo from a real estate website. those shots struck reeva as she sat inside. only then pistorius says did he realize his girlfriend was not in bed. he broke through the bathroom door, tried to save her, called a friend, then paramedics, he said, but she died in my arms. prosecutors made it clear they don't buy it. why would a burglar lock himself into a toilet? they said reeva locked that door for a purpose. arguing even if he did think it was an intruder, this would still be premeditated murder of a defenseless burglar. they said pistorius armed himself that morning, put on his artificial legs, walked 23 feet down a hallway to the bathroom and fired.
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lawyers for pistorius insist there was no motive for murder, no premeditation, and read statements from friends who described the two as deeply in love. steenkamp's best friend said steenkamp would have married pistorius if he had asked. at the same time as all this today, steenkamp's funeral. >> reeva. >> reporter: a promising young life ended by a terrible accident or premeditated murder? michelle kosinski, nbc news, pretoria, south africa. back in this country tonight, just days after the chris dorner rampage terrorized southern california, another gruesome shooting rampage in the early hours of this morning. a gunman identified as a 20-year-old part-time student shot and killed a woman, then carjacked a total of three vehicles in all, killing two of the drivers before law enforcement finally closed in on him, he took his own life. police say they have no motive for all of this. so far they are convinced this is an isolated incident.
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still ahead as we continue here tonight, the wild scene at the airport. a huge diamond heist and the gunman who fooled the cops by looking like cops. and later, everybody wanted to know why so many russians have video of the meteor. tonight an explanation. why cameras are so widespread in dashboards across that country and what else they have recorded along the way. helps provide many with day and night relief of heartburn symptoms caused by acid reflux disease. there is risk of bone fracture, and low magnesium levels. side effects may include headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. call your doctor right away if you have persistent diarrhea. other serious stomach conditions may exist. don't take nexium if you take clopidogrel. ask your doctor if nexium is right for you. find out how you may be able to get nexium for just $18 a month at to help protect your eye health as you age... would you take it?
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organized. >> reporter: the men were in two vehicles, a mercedes van and a car. they drove through a hole cut in the airport security fence and made straight for a brinks delivery van, loading a plane with the diamonds. they filled the vehicles with boxes of gems, then fled back through the fence. it took just three minutes. >> we can only conclude that these people were indeed very well aware of what they were doing, what they were looking for. >> reporter: the jewels were from antwerp, the capital of the world diamond trade. a heist there ten years ago was the biggest ever. tonight disbelief that it's happened again. >> how is it possible that eight armed men can have access to the tarmac to a specific plane in which they knew that it was going to take off a few minutes later and that had diamonds on board. >> reporter: diamonds like those sold here in london are a tempting target for thieves. they're small. so easy to carry away. in 2009, two men robbed glass diamonds of $65 million worth.
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security cameras showed them simply walking in, disguised in professional makeup. in 1978, the legendary lufthansa heist at jfk airport. >> several million dollars in cash and jewelry taken from a cargo hangar by a band of armed men wearing masks. >> reporter: made famous in the movie "goodfellas." >> and these are the guys that jimmy put together for what turned out to be the biggest heist in american history. >> reporter: just last year at a london mall was hit by jewel thieves on motorcycles. police in belgium will now be looking for clues in their own security camera video. but experts warn the diamonds may have already vanished into the black market. keir simmons, nbc news, london. we're back in a moment with a software glitch in outer space and what the president's weekend golf partner said about his game. game. hey, it's me, progressive insurance. you know, from our 4,000 television commercials. yep, there i am with flo.
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today, nasa lost contact with the international space station, hurtling around the earth at 17,000 miles an hour while carrying six adults on board. anyone who's ever downloaded new software won't be surprised to learn the glitch happened because they were downloading new software. they were able to speak by old-school radio with the russians every time they passed over russia in orbit. they were never in any danger. tonight the system's back up and running. and we happen to know "nightly news" is uploaded to the space station each evening, so at least they get to see themselves on tv. as the british newspaper the "daily mail" breathlessly put it today, kate put her baby bump on parade. today's public event at hope house, a rehab facility in south london, was the first appearance by kate middleton in public since being visibly with child. easily the most anxiously awaited birth in the uk since diana herself was pregnant with prince william 30 years ago. to be fair, the "daily mail" went on to describe her as radiant today. now halfway through her
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pregnancy. vice president joe biden is out with another one of those sound bites that could live on for a long time. he appeared on a live video town hall on gun violence sponsored by facebook and "parents" magazine. he was responding to a gun owner fearful about a ban on certain kinds of weapons and clips, that it would leave people unable to protect themselves in their home. >> kate, if you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun, have the shells of a 12-gauge shotgun, and i promise you, as i told my wife, we live in an area that's wooded and somewhat secluded. i said, jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barrelled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. i promise you whosever coming in is not going to -- you don't need an ar-15. it's harder to aim. it's harder to use.
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and, in fact, you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. buy a shotgun. buy a shotgun. >> the vice president went on to say the government has to make some limits on the weapons people can buy. otherwise, he said, the wrong people would have flamethrowers and rocket launchers and billionaires could buy fully loaded fighter jets. tiger woods spoke publicly today about his golf outing this weekend with president obama in florida. he said the president's a good athlete, and he had forgotten until he teed off that he's a lefty. and by the way, it was apparent listening to tiger woods today he was drilled on the proper way to address the president in all cases. >> playing with mr. president was pretty cool. he's a wonderful person to be around. we won. he hit the ball well and got amazing touch. he can certainly chip and putt. if he ever spent after these
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four years, if he spends more time playing the game of golf, i'm sure he can get to where he's a pretty good stick. >> it was the president's first golf outing with tiger woods who's still recovering from a massive explosion in his personal life. it was tiger woods' second golf outing with a u.s. president. he's played golf before with president clinton. up next tonight, all the many things russians have recorded on their dashboard video cameras and why it is so many russian drivers have them. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics... a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion. because just one 200mg celebrex a day can provide 24 hour relief for many with arthritis pain and inflammation. plus, in clinical studies, celebrex is proven to improve daily physical function
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so we all woke up last friday morning to the story of the meteor and the damage it did in russia and the numerous videos of the flaming trail across the sky. almost as amazing as the meteor was the huge number of high-quality hd videos from what looked like a fleet of dashboard cameras in vehicles all over russia. then we did some checking, and we discovered these cameras are a big thing among russians, and they see a lot of things. our report tonight from our own longtime moscow veteran, nbc's jim maceda. >> reporter: when that meteor came crashing into siberia last week, the moment was captured for the ages from just about every angle.
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caught in the act by these, small, inexpensive dashboard cameras, dashcams. and in a country where traffic can be a matter of life and death, few russian drivers leave home without them. "it protects me from the lawless, drunken idiots on the road," says dmitry. "if someone cuts me off, i have proof it wasn't me." but all those cameras are also capturing so much more. how about a tank crossing your lane? a truckload of cows spilling in front of you. or the wheel of a crashed plane slamming into you. or even being buzzed by a helicopter. or a fighter jet. with road rage commonplace, those dashcams document who started the brawl or fired the pistol. evidence that can trump even the most corrupt russian traffic cop. >> you always suspect that the
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policemen may not treat you fairly, that the policeman's opinion may be bent with good connections and money, and this happens all the time. >> reporter: and those cams often capture scams. this guy is actually trying to get hit, slightly, by an oncoming car. or this car braking suddenly, triggering a fender bender and possibly some quick cash unless dashcam video can prove what really happened. through all the mayhem, dashcams are much more than a tool for survival. they're providing a unique form of russian entertainment gone viral. and sometimes it's magic. jim maceda, nbc news. >> and we decided to bring cameras to the olympics in russia 11 months from now. that's our broadcast for tonight. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. ee you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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